Syracuse’s Season Comes To An End in the NCAA Quarterfinals
By Nick Luttrell
CitrusTV Field Hockey Beat Reporter
COLLEGE PARK, M.D. — A terrific season has come to an end for No. 10 Syracuse (14-6) as today they fell to No. 5 Maryland (14-6) in the NCAA quarterfinals, 2-1.
All game long, SU struggled with offensive efficiency. What Syracuse did so well in Friday’s win over Penn State was quick, accurate passes. Today, their passes were once again quick against a pressuring Terps defense, but accuracy was the issue.
The offensive performance by the Orange was undoubtedly their worst of the season. SU finished with five shots and two shots on goal, each being their lowest mark of the season. They also struggled in forcing penalty corners. Coming into the quarterfinals matchup with Maryland, Syracuse averaged nearly eight penalty corners per game, good for eighth-best in the nation. Today they had just three – tied for their lowest mark of the season.
If it wasn’t evident already, forcing penalty corners was the biggest thing SU did so well all season. Sure it didn’t always end up in goals, but getting inside the opponent’s circle and gaining momentum was essentially winning half the battle. Penalty corners were the reason this team made it to their first Elite 8 since 2016 and only their 10th in program history.
Both Syracuse and Maryland remained scoreless after the first 30 minutes of play. While the Orange were indeed struggling offensively due in part to the Terps defense, the same was true for Maryland. Syracuse was doing the same things that Maryland was doing on defense: pressuring the ball and taking away passing lanes.
But the second half was much different. Maryland came out in the third quarter and seemed to make adjustments that Syracuse wasn’t prepared for. The Terps put up back-to-back shots on a pressured Brooke Borzymowski at goalkeeper. Then, a few minutes later at the 32nd minute, Maryland broke open on a two-on-one opportunity in which Hope Rose found Anna Castaldo for the goal.
At that point, a lot of the momentum seemed to be on Maryland’s side. Over 1,000 fans were in attendance of which Maryland had roughly 70% of that number. The Terrapins finished the third quarter outshooting the Orange eight to one.
But things changed just one minute into the fourth quarter when Syracuse was awarded a penalty corner – just their second opportunity of the day. Like they’ve done countless times this season, Eefke van den Nieuwenhof’s number was called and she answered with a powerful shot into the goal to tie the game at one. It was now anybody’s game.
But a minute and a half later, Maryland came right back down the field and responded hugely with a Bibi Donraadt goal that put her team up 2-1 with 13 minutes left in the game.
Syracuse was not going down without a fight, though. With five minutes remaining in the game, the Orange had another opportunity on a penalty corner. Just like they’ve done over 140 times this season and practiced hundreds of more times. But this time as the play was inserted by SJ Quigley, it was Tess Queen who couldn’t handle the ball as it rolled right under her stick. It was just about the worst time for Syracuse to have an error.
The last five minutes of play were chaotic as Syracuse scrambled to try to find a goal to keep their season alive. But even when Borzymowski left the net in the 55th minute and Syracuse outnumbered Maryland, it still wasn’t enough to get the ball past the stifling Terps defense.
And while the Maryland players stormed the field in shouts of victory as the buzzer sounded, disappointment and sadness overwhelmed the Syracuse players. A promising season that once included a nine-game win streak came to a close in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
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